Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Anil K, Narendran, J., allowed this Motor Accident Claim Appeal filed against the order of Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal.

In the instant appeal, a claim petition filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 was challenged for being inadequate. The appellant sustained injuries in a motor accident, which occurred on 27-04-2014, while he was riding a motorcycle. At the place of accident, the motorcycle was hit by a car. The counsel for the motorcyclist K.A. Hassan alleged that the accident occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the car by the respondent 1. A claim petition was filed before the Tribunal claiming a total compensation of 4,50,000 rupees.

The car driver, while admitting the occurrence of accident contended through his counsel, A.A. Ziyad Rahman that the accident happened due to the rash and negligent riding of the motorcycle by the motorcyclist. It was contended by the Insurance Company that the compensation claimed is highly excessive.

The Tribunal arrived at a conclusion that the accident occurred due to the rash and negligent driving of the car by its driver. The Tribunal awarded a total compensation of 99,500 rupees together with interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of petition till realisation.

The Court relied on National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, wherein a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that, Section 168 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 deals with the concept of ‘just compensation’ and the same has to be determined on the foundation of fairness, reasonableness and equitability on an acceptable legal standard. The aim is to achieve an acceptable degree of proximity to arithmetical precision on the basis of materials brought on record in an individual case.

 In the view of the above considerations, the Court granted an additional compensation of 15,750 rupees with interest at the rate of 8% per annum from the date of petition till realisation. Since insurance coverage of the said vehicle was not in dispute, the insurer was held liable to indemnify additional compensation granted in this appeal, together with interest to the insured within a period of two months. [Asharaf K.A v. Easow T.T., 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 7968, decided on 20-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Abdul Quddhose, J., partly allowed an appeal that had been filed by the claimants seeking enhancement of compensation granted by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal under the impugned Award had directed the respondents to pay the Appellants/claimants a compensation of Rs 5,10,200 together with interest and cost for the death of Venkatesh as a result of an accident caused by a vehicle owned by the first respondent and insured with the second respondent. In the claim petition, the claimants had pleaded that the deceased was aged 28 years and was a businessman earning Rs 10,000 per month at the time of the accident but no documentary evidence was produced in support of the monthly income of the deceased, the Tribunal under the impugned Award had fixed the monthly income of the deceased on notional basis at Rs 3,300.

The Court while partly allowing the appeal enhanced the compensation stating Tribunal ought to have given due consideration to the year of the accident which happened in the year 2004 before assessing the notional monthly income of the deceased making it 4,500. Further, the Court relying on the Supreme Court judgment of National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680 stated that the Tribunal had not awarded any compensation towards loss of future prospects and loss of estate which the Appellants/claimants were legally entitled, it further reduced the deduction of personal expenses to 1/4th from 1/3rd calling it erroneous, further increasing the loss of consortium and funeral expenses in accordance with the judgment. Lastly, relying on the Supreme Court judgment of Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121 the Court held that Tribunal had erroneously adopted 18 multiplier instead of 17 while calculating the loss of dependency as correct multiplier to be adopted for a person aged 28 years was 17 multiplier and not 18. The Court however removed the compensation towards loss of love and affection to the Appellants/claimants which they were not entitled to as seen from the evidence available on record. The compensation awarded by the Tribunal under the impugned Award thus was enhanced from Rs 5,10,200 to Rs 10,33,900. [Lakshmi v. S. Rajashekar, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2647, decided on 29-09-2020]

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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of S. Sujatha, E.S. Indiresh, JJ., allow the appeal, increasing amount of compensation as granted by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

 Brief Facts

The husband of the appellant – claimant, while proceeding towards Beltangadi to adduce evidence before JMF II Court, met with an accident and thereby succumbed to the injuries caused. It is to be noted that the deceased was traveling in the vehicle as a passenger on a hire basis which had a permit of luxury taxi owned by Respondent 1. Further, the deceased was instituted at the position of a Senior Motor Inspector at the time of the said fateful incident drawing salary conducive to adequate means of living.

Under the claim for compensation before the Tribunal, the appellant-claimant sought for damages amounting Rs 65,00,000/- citing several reasons, along with interest from the respondents herein. However, compensation of Rs 15, 91, 968/- along with an interest of 6% only was sanctioned by the Tribunal. The present appeal is preferred for the enhancement of compensation amount with the revaluation of the interest rate. 


  1. Whether the impugned judgment and award passed by the Tribunal requires interference by this appeal?
  2. Whether the claimants are entitled to enhancement of compensation in this appeal?

Arguments for Appellant

Counsel for Appellant submitted that the Tribunal erred in taking the salary of the deceased as Rs 32, 541/- per month without considering income from agricultural proceeds. Further, the promotional benefits to be accrued by the deceased during his lifetime working in the transport department have not been taken into account by the Tribunal. Furthermore, the deduction of 50% towards personal expenses of the deceased finds no rationale and accordingly, sought for interference by the present appeal. Lastly, the Counsel submitted that the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is contrary to the law declared by the Supreme Court as well as the present Court under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Arguments for Respondent

Counsel for the Respondent insisted the compensation granted by the tribunal to be apt, proper and adequate in the given circumstances, requiring no interference by the present Court, whatsoever. 


The Court while allowing the appeal, ordered for an increase in compensation to Rs 23, 62, 552/- as against the compensation of Rs 15, 91, 968/- granted by the Tribunal. Moreover, referring to the judgment of Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation, and National Insurance Company v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the Court revised the deductions made by the Tribunal.[D.S. Manjula v. Usha S Rao, Misc. Appeal No. 1211 of 2015 (MV), decided on 08-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: Akil Kureshi, CJ., dismissed an appeal filed aggrieved by the order of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal by the insurance company.

The original claimant had been travelling on a motorcycle as a pillion rider when the vehicle collided with a four-wheeler of TATA ACE make coming from the opposite direction and the claimant suffered serious bodily injuries. The doctors had opined that he had suffered permanent partial disability of 45% of the body as a whole and he would be seriously restricted in his movement and work. The Claims Tribunal had awarded total compensation of Rs 25,55,520 under various heads including the pain, shock and suffering, medical treatment, etc considering the fact that he was a private doorstep banking officer drawing a salary of Rs 12,592. The insurance company had mainly contested the computation of compensation for future loss of income and questioned him about the employment in the said bank. The Member Secretary-cum Locomotor Specialist at the District Disability Medical Board certified that claimant was suffering from locomotor disability in the right leg resulting into permanent disability of 45% and it was a non-progressive injury which meant that the patient would not be able to perform any physical activity standing up without any exterior support for the rest of his life.

The Court while dismissing the appeal and agreed with the view of the Tribunal that such disability had resulted into at least 50% reduction in the earning capacity of the claimant and his job was private one and did not have any security and his potential for reemployment had also come down thus the Tribunal had rightly applied the formula for future rise and multiplier as suggested by the Supreme Court the in case of Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121. [National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Chittu Das, 2020 SCC OnLine Tri 93, decided on 14-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A. Muhamed Mustaque, J. disposed of the original petition, allowing the application for setting aside ex parte order and condonation or delay application.

The petitioner is under the liability pursuant to an Award that came out of the O.P. (MV) No. 1093 of 2017 on the file of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. There was a delay of 9 years and the recovery proceedings were initiated. Hence, the petitioner filed applications to set aside the ex parte order and an application to condone the delay.

The petitioner mentioned another Award that came out from the proceedings of the same accident carried in appeal before Division Bench of this Court in M.A.C.A. No. 1413 of 2012. The Division Bench, in the mentioned case, fastened the liability on the insurer. Hence, the petitioner contended that while following the principle of parity, his ex parte order should also be set aside. Though the respondent contended that the Judgment mentioned by the petitioner was an outcome of a separate claim petition and not out of common Award.

After hearing the counsel for the petitioner, Jacob Sebastian, and the counsel for the respondent, S. Gopinathan (Government Pleader), the Court held that the Tribunal will consider both the applications within two months. The Court also directed to postpone the recovery proceedings against the petitioner until then. [Madhusoodhanan v. National Insurance Co. Ltd., 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 60, decided on 09-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Rajnish Kumar, J. while allowing the instant appeal ordered for enhanced compensation to the appellant/claimant.

In the instant case, the appellant/claimant filed a claim petition after his son died in a motor accident.

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal/Additional District Judge allowed the above claim petition and awarded Rs 55,000 as compensation along with interest at the rate of 8% per annum, out of which Rs 27,500 for the appellant/claimant and Rs 27,500 to his wife, i.e., the mother of the deceased.

Aggrieved by the compensation, this instant first appeal was filed.

Counsel for the appellant, M. Saeed submitted that the deceased was young and studied in Class VIII l. He was a bright student. There are six dependants in the family. If he would have been alive, he would have earned a lot and helped the appellant in maintaining all. But, the Tribunal wrongly and illegally assessed the notional income of the deceased as Rs 15,000 which should have been higher in view of Kishan Gopal v. Lala, (2014) 1 SCC 244. He further submitted that the multiplier of 5 should have been applied to the age of the father, instead, it should be applied to the age of the deceased. Lesser amount was awarded towards conventional heads, namely loss of estate, loss of consortium and loss of funeral expenses, which are also liable to be enhanced.

He also relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court i.e., Reshma Kumari v. Madan Mohan, (2013) 9 SCC 65 by which a multiplier of 15 is liable to be applied in the present case.

Counsel for the respondent, R.C. Sharma submitted that the deceased was aged about 14 years, as such, he was minor at the time of death. Therefore, the notional income of Rs 15,000 has rightly been assessed and the multiplier has rightly been applied to the age of the father. Moreover, relied on two cases i.e., Khalil Ahmad v. Jitendra Bhushen Pandey, F.A.F.O. No.377 of 2001 and Om Prakash Verma v. Krishna Goel, F.A.F.O. No.285 of 2009 and submitted that the appellant is entitled only for a fixed compensation of Rs 1,50,000.

After analyzing the facts and submissions of the parties, the Court observed that the notional income of Rs 15,000 was assessed by the Tribunal as no evidence was adduced as to the income of the deceased. The case of Kishan Gopal was not applicable to the facts and circumstances of the present case because in that case the deceased was assisting the appellants in their agricultural occupation. While citing two judgments of the Supreme Court – National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, in paragraph 59.7 and Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Mandala Yadagiri Goud, (2019) 5 SCC 554, the Court came to a conclusion that the multiplier should be applied on the age of the deceased.

But, observed one factor that in the case of Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121, the multiplier was provided from the age of 15. The Supreme Court in Reshma Kumar held that in cases where the age of the deceased is up to 15 years, irrespective of Section 166 or Section 163-A under which the claim for compensation has been made, a multiplier of 15 should be followed.

In view of the above, this Court held that a multiplier of 15 should be applied in the present case in place of 5. Furthermore, the court held that the appellants are entitled to Rs 15,000, Rs 40,000 and Rs 15,000 under the conventional heads in view of National Insurance Company in place of Rs 2000 and Rs 3,000. [Gaya Prasad v. K. Trivedi, 2019 SCC OnLine All 3670, decided on 01-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Vibha Kankanwadi, J. partly modified the award granted by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal on being challenged.

The trail of events in the case is as follows:

Original claimants filed the claim petition for getting compensation on account of the death of their son—Krushna Murlidhar Kabra. Deceased along with his friend were on a motorcycle and were dashed by Mahindra Bolero Vehicle which had come in a rash and negligent manner and dashed from the backside due to which both the riders on the motorcycle received severe injuries.

Further, Respondent 1 was the owner of the Bolero Vehicle which was insured with Respondent 2 on the date of the accident.

It was contended that the deceased was 22 years old and attaining a degree in M.Com. He was also doing some private job with a monthly salary of Rs 18,000 per month. He was also involved in share purchasing and selling out of which he used to earn Rs 3000 per month and in total his income for the month was estimated to be Rs 21,000 per month. On the basis of the said amount, compensation claimed was of Rs 55,00,000.

Taking into consideration the evidence placed, the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal had held that claimants had proved that Krushna died in the said accident due to rashness and negligence if the driver of the offending vehicle. Insurance Company had also failed to prove breach of terms of policy and therefore, both the respondents were held liable to pay compensation to the claimants.

Advocate, V.N. Upadhye represented the appellant. Advocate P.R. Katneshwarkar, holding for Advocate L.B. Pallod, appeared for Respondents 1 and 2.

The appellant submitted that he is challenging the Judgment & Award on the point of quantum. He submitted that, excessive compensation was awarded when, in fact, the law requires just compensation. Tribunal’s basis for granting award and calculating the same based on an imaginary figure ended in granting bonanza to the claimants.

High Court stated that, “What remains after discarding the oral evidence in respect of point of income adduced by the claimants is, the only guess work that has been done by the learned Tribunal.”

Courts are required to take a note of the fact of unemployment prevailing in the society. Highly qualified persons are unable to get job and if at all they are able to get, then they are required to be satisfied with a lesser salary.

Due to the above-stated circumstances, merely on the count that deceased was a brilliant student, his monthly salary cannot be assessed to Rs 20,000 per month, but it was reasonable to derive that he could have fetched a job with a salary of Rs 10,000 per month with the qualifications he seemed to have attained.

Tribunal included the future prospectus in the amount as stated above of Rs 20,000, but on placing reliance on the decision of National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680, the type of calculation as stated was not expected. High Court modified the same and did the calculations based on taking into consideration his income at Rs 10,000 per month.

The fact that the deceased was a bachelor and in view of the decision in Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121, 50% is required to be deducted towards personal expenditure.

Thus, the claimants were entitled to get compensation of Rs 15,82,000. Accordingly, the Court gave the following order:

  • Judgment and award passed by the Member of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal is hereby set aside and modified.
  • Rest of the award is kept as it is. [Reliance General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Murlidhar, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 1548, decided on 13-08-2019]
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Sudhanshu Dhulia, J. remanded a matter pertaining to the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and directed them to decide on the matter expeditiously. 

The appeal was filed as the appellant as she was aggrieved by the order passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. The appellant’s husband, Bhupesh Chandra Singh, was a Junior Engineer in Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited. On 13-09-2015, while he was going on an official vehicle from “Daakpatthar” to “Koti Icchadi Dam”, he met with an accident as the vehicle fell into a deep “Khadda”. Consequently, he sustained injuries and died on the same day. On account of his death, the appellant filed a petition claiming a compensation of Rupees Eighty Lakh Twenty Thousand. The Tribunal dismissed their petition. 

The insurance Company argued that the deceased was covered under the Workmen’s Compensation Act and was insured with the New India Assurance Company, through which the claimant had already received a compensation of Rupees Seven Lakh Two Thousand One Hundred Seven and the claim petition was barred by Section 167 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. This argument is not valid as the deceased was not a workman and was not covered under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923.

The appellants argued that the vehicle in question was covered under the Comprehensive Policy. To this, the insurance company contested that in the comprehensive policy, the liability is only limited and what amount of compensation has to be given will depend upon the terms and conditions of the policy.

The status of a Comprehensive Policy, has been elaborated in the Supreme Court’s case of National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Balakrishnan, (2013) 1 SCC 731, where it was held that there is no doubt that a comprehensive policy covers the liability of the insurer for payment of compensation for the occupant in a car. 

Relying on this judgment, the Court set aside the order of the Tribunal  remanded the matter back to the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, and directed them to hear and decide on the matter expeditiously.[Preeti Khetwal v. Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 760, decided on 06-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Kuldip Singh, J. modified the claim allowed by the Tribunal on the ground that the deceased was maintaining her family.

An appeal was filed by the claimant against the award made by Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Karnal.

Facts of the case were that car accident took place which was driven by Jagdish Lal Ahuja i.e. Claimant 1 at very moderate speed. When they reached downside the railway overbridge a jeep being driven by Respondent 1 came at a very fast speed in a rash and negligent manner from the opposite side. Respondent 1 could not control the Jeep and hit the motorcycle of one Sandep Kumar and then Trax Jeep lost the control and hit the car. Deceased received multiple injuries. She succumbed to the injuries at Civil Hospital, Karnal. It was claimed that the deceased was earning Rs 16,000 to Rs 20,000 per month. Because of the death of the deceased, the claimants were deprived of the income of the deceased. In the reply, the respondent denied the fact that the accident took place due to the negligence of the jeep driver. The insurance company also denied the claim. The Tribunal held that the accident took place due to rash and negligent driving of the driver of the jeep but the Tribunal relied upon the income tax return for the year 2002-2003 and applied the multiplier of 8 and ordered the compensation amount accordingly. Thus aggrieved by the order of compensation an appeal was preferred by the claimant.

High Court opined that the Tribunal erred in discarding the income tax return for the year 2002-2003 only on the ground that it was filed after the death of the deceased. The Tribunal did not appreciate that the income tax authorities did not accept this return to be correct. The court also opined that as deceased was about 55 years old at the time of the accident, the multiplier of nine was to be applied. On the question that the dependents were eligible for the compensation, reliance was placed upon the case of Gujarat SRTC v. Ramanbhai Prabhatbhai, 1987 AIR (SC) 1690, in which various observations were made to press that the claimants being legal heir are entitled to compensations. It was further opined that as it cannot be assumed that unit is still running and as there was a loss of management on account of the death of the deceased who was looking after the entire affair and was supporting the family the multiplier of 9  should be applied. Thus the claim of Rs 11,95,000 was ordered to be payable along with the interest at 7.5 percent.[Jagdish Lal v. Ram Chander, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 1175, decided on 11-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: P.K. Lohra, J. allowed an appeal for enhancement of the compensation amount awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Bikaner.

In the instant case, the husband of the appellant wife, aged about 38 years, was driving to Bikaner from Delhi in his car when he was hit by a truck, driven at a high speed and rashly. The severity of the accident caused the husband to expire on spot. The appellants claimed compensation. The Tribunal decided the accident to have happened due to the negligence of the truck driver and there was no negligence on the part of the deceased. The Tribunal had made one-third deduction as his personal expenses from the salary and thereafter, compensation for loss of dependency, and non-conventional damages worked out total amount of compensation to Rs 4,19,000.

The Counsel representing the appellant, Gurvinder Singh, challenged the order contending that the tribunal did not consider the income tax return of the deceased and income of business profits while calculating the compensation amount. He also put forth, the tribunal erred in not taking into consideration the number of dependents (which was four in number) instead it considered three. Lastly, the learned counsel contended that the interest should have been awarded at 9% per annum.

The Counsel representing the respondents, Mukul Singhvi, defended the impugned judgment of the tribunal and stated that the court was correct in calculating the interest at 6% per annum.

The High Court upon examination of the evidences produced before the Court, decided to enhance the compensation amount. It reassessed the income of the deceased and took into consideration the number of dependents of the family, hence deducted one-fourth under the head “Loss of Dependency”. The High Court placed reliance on the Supreme Court Judgment in Sarla Verma v. DTC, (2009) 6 SCC 121, wherein it was held that the number of dependents shall be taken into consideration while calculating one’s deduction of personal expenses. However, while calculating the future prospects of the deceased it allowed a 40% increase on the same owing to difficulty in calculating one’s future prospects and by placing reliance on the decision of the Supreme Court in National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Pranay Sethi, (2017) 16 SCC 680 wherein it was decided to make the quantum of compensation just and reasonable. The court also awarded unprecedented damages under the head “loss of consortium”, which relates to the right of spouse to the company care, help, etc. It thereafter went on to enhance the amount awarded towards the children of the deceased and for the funeral expenses as well. The Court, therefore, reassessed and enhanced the compensation amount partly to what the Tribunal had declared, and it also directed the rate of interest to be at 9% per anum in accordance with the Reserve Bank of India Guidelines.[Arti v. Teja Ram, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 1168 decided on 02-04-2019]

Case Briefs

Jharkhand High Court: Anubha Rawat Choudhary, J. allowed an appeal made by an insurance company regarding their extent of liability towards a deceased as mentioned in the insurance policy.

An FIR was lodged by the owner of a vehicle wherein it was stated that a person (deceased) was authorized to drive his vehicle. In order to save a cow while driving, that person met with an accident and died. His legal representatives (the claimant) filed a claim application, but the insurance company denied its liability. Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) allowed the claimant’s application under Section 166 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and held the insurance company liable to pay compensation of Rs. 11 lakhs with 6 per cent interest. Hence, this appeal.

Issue: Whether the deceased, who was authorized to drive the vehicle, by the owner of the vehicle, is covered under the insurance policy and if so, to what extent.

Learned counsel Ashutosh Anand, on behalf of the appellant submitted that the Tribunal did not consider the fact that the deceased was driving the vehicle with the permission of the owner so, he won’t be considered a 3rd party as he stepped into the shoes of the owner and thus claimant would be entitled to compensation only after proving that there was no rash driving or negligence on the part of the deceased.

Learned counsel  K. K. Singh, on behalf of the respondent submitted that the point raised by the appellant were raised for the first time and not mentioned in its written statement. It was further contended that the appellant did not make any plea about their extent of liability before the Tribunal and referred to a judgment of Supreme Court Ramchandra v. Regional Manager, United India Insurance Company Ltd., (2013) 12 SCC 84, in which it was rightly held that the appellant was estopped from raising the plea for the first time at the appellant stage.

The Court noted that there was no rash and negligent driving on the part of the deceased as per the police report. It was noted that the reason for the appellant’s denial of its liability to pay compensation, was that the deceased was neither a 3rd party nor a paid driver of the insured owner. It was opined that the liability of the appellant under the policy would be governed by the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. The insurance policy did not cover the list of any gratuitous passenger and no additional premium for such coverage was paid by the insured against the policy.

It relied on the judgment in United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Sidharat Raju, 2014 SCC OnLine P&H 3117 where it was held that the deceased steps into the shoes of the owner of the vehicle, and therefore the claimant cannot be said to a third party for the purposes of awarding compensation under the Act. Further reliance was placed on National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Ashalata Bhowmik, (2018) 9 SCC 801 where it was held that liability of an insurance company would be only to the extent of personal accident coverage under the contract of insurance.

In view of the aforesaid decisions, it was held that the extent of liability of the appellant could only be 2 lakhs with 6 percent interest from the date of filing the petition till the payment is made.[TATA AIG General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Shakuntala Ganeriwal, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 642, decided on 25-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of S. Kumar, J. dismissed an appeal filed by the insurance company against the judgment and award passed by Motor Vehicle Accident Claim Tribunal, Bihar.

The son of claimant died on the spot when a vehicle dashed against him. As a result, he filed a complaint against the driver (Opposite Party 2) under Sections 279 and 304-A of the Penal Code, 1860. The offending vehicle was insured with the New India Assurance Company Ltd. (Opposite Party 3) and the claimant made claim for payment of compensation amount Rs 6 lakhs. The District Judge-cum-Motor Vehicle Tribunal granted compensation of Rs 3,65,000 to the claimant. Aggrieved by the quantum of compensation granted, the New India Assurance Company Ltd. filed an appeal against said judgment and award.

The Court dismissed the appeal placing reliance on the judgment of Apex Court in Reshma Kumari v. Madan Mohan, (2013) 9 SCC 65, and held, “the claimants are entitled for compensation of the amount as granted by the Tribunal and not inclined to interfere with the quantum of compensation amount granted by the Tribunal.” It also directed the insurance company to pay the amount of compensation to the claimant, with an interest at 6 per cent from the date of filing of the claim application till its realization within two months, from the date of receipt of the order passed by the Court. [New India Assurance Company Ltd. v. Amiri Khatoon, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 630, Order dated 06-05-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: When a practicing advocate, had suffered in nasty accident at the young age of 18 years, in which his entire left leg was crushed, approached the Court with the plea seeking reform in the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims system, the bench of Dr. AK Sikri and SA Nazeer, JJ asked the Government to consider the feasibility of enacting Indian Mediation Act to take care of various aspects of mediation in general.

The Court also issued the following directions:

  1. The Government may examine the feasibility of setting up Motor Accidents Mediation Authority (MAMA) by making necessary amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act.
  2. In the interregnum, NALSA is directed to set up Motor Accident Mediation Cell which can function independently under the aegis of NALSA or can be handed over to MCPC. Such a project should be prepared within a period of two months and it should start functioning immediately thereafter at various levels as suggested in this judgment. We reiterate the directions contained in order dated November 6, 2017 in Jai Prakash case for implementation of the latest Modified Claims Tribunal Agreed Procedure. For ensuring such implementation, NALSA is directed to take up the same in coordination and cooperation with various High Courts. MACAD Scheme shall be implemented by all Claim Tribunals on All India basis. Banks, Members of Indian Banks Assocation, who had taken decision to implement MACAD Scheme would do the same on All India basis.
  3. The Government should look into the feasibility of framing necessary schemes and for the availability of annuity certificates. This exercise may be done within the period of six months and decision be taken thereupon.
  4. There should be programmes from time to time, in all State Judicial Academies, to sensitizing the Presiding Officers of the Claims Tribunals, Senior Police Officers of the State Police as well as Insurance Company for the implementation of the said Procedure.

The appellant had prayed for:

  • On-road safety and grant of adequate compensation to the victims without any delay. For ensuring expeditious settlement of claims, resort to alternate means which may include innovative measures.
  • Taking adequate steps including adopting innovative measures, to ensure fast track disposal of cases by MACTs.
  • Ensuring receipt of compensation in the safe hands of victims and/or kiths and kins of victims, that too over a sustained period.

[MR Krishna Murthi v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine SC 315, decided on 05.03.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This appeal was filed before a Single Judge Bench of Lisa Gill, J., by the Insurance Company challenging its liability to pay compensation to the claimants which was awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

Facts of the case were that the claim petition was filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, by the claimant-respondent and the same was decided by the Tribunal and compensation of Rs 2,89,012 along with interest at the rate of 6% per annum was awarded on account of injuries received by respondent in the motor vehicle accident. Appellant i.e. the insurance company contended that the Tribunal erred in holding that a valid driving license was present with the driver of the offending vehicle. Offending vehicle being a bus. It was further submitted that ‘unladen weight’ and ‘gross vehicle weight’ are distinct from each other. And according to the driving license he was not entitled to drive the bus.

High Court observed that the driving license found with the offending vehicle’s driver was valid for a transport vehicle. The appellant had failed to show that the driving license was valid for driving of Light Motor Vehicle Non-Transport, Transport Vehicle and Light Motor Vehicle CAB. It was also observed that the distinction between the ‘unladen weight’ and the ‘gross vehicle weight’ was irrelevant. Since appellant had failed to show that respondent was carrying an invalid driving license the appeal should be dismissed. Therefore, on finding no ground to interfere in the impugned order, this appeal was dismissed. [United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Gurchain Singh, 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 2723, decided on 20-12-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A.M. Khanwilkar, J. delivered the judgment for CJ Dipak Misra and himself whereby the matter concerning the liability of the insurer to pay compensation in a motor accident claim was remanded back to the Allahabad High Court.

Respondents 1-5 filed a claim before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal consequent to the death of one Sanoj Kumar. The deceased was going for morning walk when he was hit by a Bolero loader driven in a rash and negligent manner. The Tribunal absolved the liability of the insurer – Oriental Insurance Co. – on the finding that the driver of the said vehicle did not have a valid driving licence. However, the insurer was directed to compensation amount as determined with a liberty to recover the same from the owner and driver of the vehicle The said decision was affirmed by the High Court. Being aggrieved, the appellant – owner of the vehicle – filed the instant appeal.

The question before the Supreme Court was that ‘whether the Tribunal was right in holding that the insurer was not liable as the driver had a fake licence?’ The Court referred PEPSU Road Transport Corpn. v. National Insurance Co., (2013) 10 SCC 217 and Premkumari v. Prahlad Dev, (2008) 3 SCC 193. It was observed to be well established that if the owner was aware of the fact that the licence was fake and still permitted the driver to drive the vehicle, then the insurer’s liability would stand absolved. However, the mere fact that the driving licence is fake, per se, would not absolve the liability of the insurer. It was noticed that, in the present case, neither the Tribunal nor the High Court made any attempt to analyse as to whether the appellant was aware of the fake driving licence possessed by the driver. In such circumstances, the Court deemed it appropriate to relegate the parties before the High Court for fresh consideration of the matter only on question of liability of the owner or of the insurer to pay compensation. The appeal was disposed of in the terms above. [Ram Chandra Singh v. Rajaram,2018 SCC OnLine SC 959, dated 14-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Division Judge Bench of Akil Kureshi and BN Karia, JJ., addressed an appeal filed by the respondent company, challenging the judgment passed by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

The respondent had gone through an accident because of which he had received some bodily injuries. The vehicle of the respondent was insured by the insurance company.  The overall impact of disability was assessed to be 41% of the whole body.

The main dispute that arose was regarding the amount of compensation that was to be given as loss of amenities. It was contended by the Tribunal that the award of loss of income was basically in disguise of loss of amenities relating the same to the disability percentage of the salary of the injured. And since the income of the deceased remained the same despite injuries, loss of earning capacity cannot be claimed.

It was held that since a government employee may not immediately either lose the job or suffer reduction in salary and that per se would not imply that injury has not affected the earning capacity of the sufferer. Thus the award granted to the petitioner would be a modest sum for loss of amenities of life, the appeal disposed of accordingly.[New India Assurance Co. Ltd v. Dominic Sebastian Vezhuvalil,2018 SCC OnLine Guj 1307, Order dated 02-08-2018]



Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: In a matter referred by a Division Bench to a larger Bench for its opinion on the issue “Whether a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal constituted in UP under the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA), 1988, can permit examination-in-chief to be recorded on affidavit of witnesses and may further permit parties to cross-examine witnesses on the basis of such affidavits?”, the Bench comprising of Dilip B. Bhosale, CJ., Aditya Nath Mittal and Rajan Roy, JJ., were of the view that the Claims Tribunal being formed to deliver speedy justice, can follow such summary procedure as it thinks fit and shall have all the powers of a civil court for the purpose of taking evidence on oath.

In the present case, the respondents had filed a claim petition before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal, Lucknow, due to an accident in which one person of the respondents’ family died, consequently, the appellant was directed to pay compensation to the respondents, to which they appealed. Here, the respondents had adduced the examination-in-chief by way of affidavit which was claimed to be impermissible in law by the appellant.

The appellant placed heavy reliance upon the judgment of this Court in Kripal Singh v. Mst. Kalia, 1982 ACJ 458 and contended that the Tribunal has no authority, in law, to record evidence by means of affidavit and if such a procedure is adopted, the award rendered would be illegal. They further argued that the amendment brought to Code of Civil Procedure in 2002 which rendered the Civil Courts to record evidence on affidavits of witnesses, was after UP Motor Vehicles Rules (MVR), 1998, was enacted. While the respondents argued that Kripal Singh was decided in 1982 when neither MVA, 1988 nor UP MVR, 1998 existed nor the above amended provisions were in existence, so, the case has lost its binding nature.

The Bench were of the same opinion and relying on New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Richa Singh Katiyar, 2012 ACJ 1626 and Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Ram Ratan, 2013 (3) ALJ 600, it stated that examination-in-chief on affidavit is allowed at the discretion of the Tribunal, subject to any objection by the defendants, also, with reference to cross-examination and re-examination, the same are not permitted on affidavit and have to take place before the Tribunal. Moreover, in absence of any objection before the Tribunal regarding the examination-in-chief on affidavit, no appeal would be allowed in regards to its award before the High Court later on. [National Insurance Company Ltd. v. Pushpa Devi, First Appeal from Order No.  545 of 2011, decided on 27-10-2016]